Jersey City files petition for rehearing on pipeline
Jun 25, 2012 | 3321 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JERSEY CITY AND BEYOND - On Friday, June 22, Mayor Jerramiah Healy announced that the city had filed a comprehensive 43-page petition requesting a rehearing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which last month conditionally approved an application by Spectra Energy to construct a high-pressure natural gas pipeline through Jersey City.

The proposed pipeline would include 19.8 miles of new and replacement pipes, six new stations, and other related modifications in Linden, Jersey City, and Bayonne. The pipeline would cross the Hudson River into New York to

connect the company's existing pipeline to Manhattan and Staten Island, supplying customers of Con Edison.

Spectra has also said that it will supply energy to power facilities operated by Bayonne Plant Holding and boilers at the International Matex Tank Terminals, also in Bayonne.

But because of the pipeline's close proximity to sensitive areas, local activists and city officials have argued that a natural gas explosion could cause mass casualties and significantly damage important transportation infrastructure. Healy has also argued that the potential hazards posed by a

gas pipeline could hurt future commercial and residential development in the city.

After FERC unanimously approved Spectra's application to construct the pipeline on May 21, the city had 30 days to file a petition to appeal the decision.

Among other things, the city's petition calls into the question the constitutionality of FERC to fairly evaluate construction proposals for gas pipelines since the agency is funded entirely by fees generated from energy companies.

"We have argued throughout this process that it has been one lacking any independent or thorough analysis by FERC," Healy said in a statement. "The findings and arguments made by the pipeline company have been taken as gospel by FERC, while most, if not all, of our concerns have either been downplayed or disregarded."

The city's argument is that since energy companies entirely fund FERC, the agency is biased toward those companies in a way that violates fundamental rights to due process.

The petition cites research that, since 2010, FERC has approved nearly three dozen pipelines.

In every case but one, according to the petition, the agency approved the pipeline routes that the energy companies proposed - despite the existence of dozens of viable, even preferable, alternatives.

Healy added: "If we are not granted a rehearing with FERC, then we will take this issue to the federal circuit court to seek relief."

The city is utilizing what may be precedent-setting legal arguments to fight the pipeline. - E. Assata Wright

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